Mining giant Rio Tinto has set up a new freight service between Singapore and Western Australia’s Pilbara region to speed up supply to its iron ore operations.
The new freight route is expected to cut lead times by six to 10 days compared to the existing route via Perth, transporting maintenance supplies such as oil, construction vehicle tyres, train parts and mining tools.
Supplies were previously delivered to Port Fremantle in Perth, where Rio Tinto's centre of operations is located, and transported by road to the Pilbara mines.
Direct freight services to Port Dampier in Pilbara are expected to save around 3m litres of diesel fuel and 3.8m kilometres in road travel.
The first shipment arrived last Friday, delivering rail wagon wheels, wagon parts, oil and lubricants.
Richard Cohen, MD of port, rail and core services at Rio Tinto Iron Ore, said: “This is an important new service that connects the Pilbara to the rest of the world via the major international shipping hub of Singapore. It will provide a number of benefits by delivering cheaper, cleaner and faster freight to the region."
Viva Energy, a fuels and lubricants supplier to Rio Tinto, expects to reduce its road transport travel by 350,000 km a year as a result of the direct transport link.
Eventually over 50% of Rio Tinto’s freight supplies will go through the new route. The ship, operated by Rio Tinto, can hold 350 containers, with additional capacity provided by other freight firms such as Toll Group.
Rio Tinto operates 247 ships, with 17 owned and 230 contracted.
Peter Stokes, president of global logistics at Toll Group, said: “This dedicated container vessel service from Singapore to Dampier will enable enormous possibilities to deliver more efficient supply chains to the Pilbara region."
He added the project would provide local businesses with a significant opportunity to access international import and export markets.